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On sugar

Quick question: what are the first things you think about when you hear the word “sugar”?

Sugar is sweet, which is in itself a positive word. When things are sweet, they are generally good. Most people prefer sweet food to bitter, salty or sour food. Sugar also gives you energy quickly and generates a happy feeling. Sugar is also indispensable for certain bodily functions: you need a certain amount of sugar in your blood, and your brains use sugar as fuel. Sugar is an absolute necessity.

However, over the last few years sugar has acquired a bit of a bad name. Let me be clear about this: this is not because sugar is unhealthy in itself, but because people eat (or drink) far more sugar than is good for your body.

Let me make a distinction. There are two types of sugar: natural, and unnatural or artificial. Of course, the natural type is the good kind of sugar. This is the kind of sugar that you get from fruits and vegetables. Artificial sugars are added to food, to make them sweeter, such as fructose or sucrose. Try to avoid these artificial sugars altogether.

The next thing you should know is: adults need next to no sugar at all on a daily basis. For men it’s about 35 grams a day, for women about 25 grams. For comparison: a can of Coca Cola contains about 40 grams of (added) sugar. A suger-rich fruit, like a banana has about 12 grams of sugar for every 100 grams of banana, and a grapefruit has about 7 grams of sugar for every 100 grams of fruit. So, you can drink about 2/3 of a can of Coca Cola before you’ll have your recommended daily intake of sugars, and bad sugars at that, or you can eat 2 bananas, or 2,5 grapefruits each day. Switch to fruits and water. Seriously.

Your brains have no use for artificial sugars, so these get stored into your body, as fat, almost immediately. Your brains do use natural sugars, and use them well at that. If you want to improve you learning capacity, switch to a diet which only has natural sugars. You’ll feel more focused and more in balance than if you eat products with artificial sugars. As an added benefit: lots of fruits improve memory functions, which in turn makes learning easier.

In the Netherlands there’s a saying which can be loosely translated to “whenever you want a snack, have an apple”. I’ll leave that as advice for today.

Talk to you later!

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